Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Frequent Question...

Someone asked me again today what the whole contagious thing is about and how it correlates to leadership. In short, I shared that contagious is what we all are because everything we do rubs off on other people. And then I said, leadership for me begins wtih leading yourself and what I often share with managers is that if you cannot lead your own self out of a low self-esteem or other personal issues, then you have no business leading others who bring that and more to work with them. He asked for my card so I think he liked the answer.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Can you really have balance?

Many times members of an audience will ask me how I do all that I do? Do you feel balanced? Clients will ask me to come in and teach employees how to have balance and the truth is that balance is extremely difficult to achieve, if even possible at all.

I like the way Robin Fisher Roffer described it in her book: Make a Name For Yourself
"I don't try to balance work and family. I never have. In my life they are all mixed up. I don't shut it off when I close the door to my office and walk aroudn the corner to my house. I bring it inside and let it pull up a chair. My husband and I talk about it over dinner. It would seem weird to me to drop it at the door, and my family would feel left out if I didn't share this incredibly important aspect of my life with them."

So for all of you who attempt to achieve balance, there may be some hope. Stop trying to give everything equal time exclusively. Find ways to involve each in the other parts of your life... your whole life and recognize that some weeks work will take more time. Some times life will take more time. Maybe the key is to be balanced in our intense desire to achieve perfect balance.

Until we have the honor of meeting in person...

Friday, June 29, 2007

Definition of Management at DMV

This morning I completed a good read by Ken Blanchard. In his recent book: Leading at a Higher Level (www.amazon.com), Ken describes a scenario at his local DMV in which changes from the leader of that office, led to a dramatic reduction in lines and wait times and the frustration of the customers.

Ken asked the leader of this office many questions and one included his definition of a manager, to which the man replied:

" My job [as manager] is to reorganize the department on a moment-to-moment basis, depending on citizen (customer) need."

Perhaps we could all begin to look at our role as managers and leaders in this way - it just might change the way that we not only percieve our job, but perceive others and the needs of customers. After all, it is the employees and the customers that give us a reason to have the role of leader in the first place.

Until we have the privilege of meeting in person....

Thursday, June 21, 2007


A poignant thought today:
Always remember that you have choices....
A choice of where to work
A choice of where to live
A choice of what to do
A choice to take care of you
A choice to take care of others
A choice to make choices
A choice to be you
A choice to act like someone else
A choice to be happy
A choice to be unhappy
A choice to be glad you woke up today
A choice to criticize what you looked like when you did
A choice to eat brownies in bed
A choice to exercise and eat healthy
A choice to forgive
A choice to forget
A choice to find a way to be grateful

You always, as many of our friends, clients, and family are showing us at Monica Wofford International, have a choice to live your life in the way that allows you to be the best possible you that you can be. It isn't a fluffy statement. It is a reality and something that many forget. The world doens't make your choices for you, you do with your mind, your thoughts, your actions, and your behavior. What have you done to ensure that you are making the right choices for you?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Job Satisfaction Leads to More Confidence

I ran across something special today in a book I just finished: Success Built to Last http://www.amazon.com published by Wharton School Pubishing. In it, former CEO of Honeywell, who is also the author of bestselling book: Authentic Leadership said the following:

"It's okay not to find the right fit in your profession right away, but you have to keep trying and never settle. When you find the right fit, everything changes. And one of those things that change is the way you gain the confidence to really jumpstart the people around you. If you and your team are passionate and really believe in the cause, then you can't help but have fireworks....If what you're doing doesn't turn you on, and if you're holding back what you have to say or contribute, that is not okay. You're not going to be willing to hear the bad news or the best ideas. You're not going to be successful."

Suffice it to say, we all can't just quit and go find another job, but the key is to keep finding a fit i the one you have and frankly, to be you above all else. If you hold back part of you, the folks you work with will miss a valuable piece and you will miss valuable satisfaction. I like how he mentions that this kind of satisfaction will increase your confidence. We have seen a significant rise in the number of calls we are getting to train Contagious Confidence. http://www.monicawofford.com/EventCalendar_ST03.html

Does your organization need a boost?

Until we have the honor of meeting in person...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Graduation is in the air... and the set up begins...

It is the month of graduations for high and college and the month in which we begin the set up of these poor graduates for a life of expectations of such celebration for each milestone in their life going forward.

Graduation is fun! The cords, the gowns, the hats, the family and the fanfair. It is all fun and yet, it sends the message that the rest of life is going to be filled with such celebration. Do we wonder why when these folks join the work force that they become disspointed at the lack of reward and recognition that occurs at both minor and major milestones?

If we consider the fact that we bring in family and friends to celebrate years of book learning as if this is the pinnacle of one's life at the ripe old age of 18 or 21, what do we do when one of these young ones achieves the learning of life that doesn't come from a book? When one learns about true diversity, what do we do? When one learns about communication or emotional intelligence, what do we do? When one learns true confidence and belief in oneself no matter what, what do we do? When one learns what being a partner is about, what do we do? When one learns that parenting is a gift of experience and commitment, what do we do? When one learns that the world does not in fact rotate around oneself, what do we do?

I am not suggesting that we diminish the graduation celebrations at all. I am merely hoping that we realize the stage we are setting and the challenges this could create further down the road for comparitive milestones that are celebrated in less than grand fashion. I mean really, do they call your name in front of all you know and give you more than a tie tack when you have worked somewhere and contributed half your life for twenty years? Likely not.

Until we have the privilege of meeting in person...

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

It Takes Confidence to Take a Compliment

It happened... the project went wonderfully well and it took the entire team to make it happen. Then during the staff meeting your boss singles you out and says "You really did a great job! Let's all give (YOU) a hand for the wonderful work on completing this recent project!"

There is light hearted applause and a few looks and you realize immediately that yes, it feels good to hear the words, but you didn't do it all by yourself. Do you say something or do you bask in the glory?

Well, that depends. How much confidence do you have? Do you really need to bask in all that glory and fill your cup of approval or can you confidently turn the spotlight to the others who helped you. My hope is that the latter is true. Try saying something like this:
"I'm delighted that you noticed the extra effot, and I really must share your compliment with the others on the team who helped me to achieve this. Let's all give ourselves a round of applause (or high five or pat on the back or whatever suits your fancy).

It takes confidence to accept a compliment, but also to realize that it rarely is all about you and the work you did. Someone likely helped you get there or learned what you know to get where you've gotten.

Until we have the pleasure to meet in person...

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Leadership - Is Today the Day for It?

Some days you feel like a leader, some days you do not. Sound like an old familar commercial? But, isn't it true? Some days you feel like getting out of bed and leading the charge and some days you just don't and you end up with the remnants of a game face that sticks with you for most of the day.

Well, today is a day to lead. Grab the bull by the horns, focus on those you have the privilege of leading and in good old Texas fashion - go get 'em ya'll.

I am headed off to explore leadership in another country and culture in South Africa. Looking forward to the adventure and to sharing updates with you along the way.


Tuesday, April 3, 2007

How Exactly Do You Lead Other People?

When I am asked "What do you do?", the response varies. However, the answer I enjoy the most and say most often is:

"We rescue life jacketed leaders in the deep end of the pool who were promoted but never taught how to swim."

You see, in our experience at MWI (Monica Wofford International), so many people appear to have been bestowed leadership titles (i.e. life jackets) and promoted to deeper or larger pools (i.e. bigger teams, bigger offices, etc) yet never put through any training on how to actually lead. (i.e. SWIM).

Leadership, or rather effective leadership, requires that you know how to and are proficient in:
1. Building Rapport
2. Building Trust
3. Helping others Grow
4. Motivating and Recognizing Others in Ways that Work for Them
5. Delegation, Prioritization, and Communication
and perhaps as important as all of these skills...

Knowing who you are, what your boundaries are, what your needs are, and having enough confidence to stand up for what you believe, as well as the needs of the team you lead.

That is a lot, but leadership is not easy. It's work. Learning how to swim in what can sometimes be rather choppy and complicated waters is not easy. People are not easy. That doesn't mean leadership is never fun or always drudgery, but it does mean that it is often misinterpreted as somthing that you gain when you get promoted, sort of like the surprise in a box of cracker jack. No one gives you leadership. You create, develop, hone, practice on, and earn leadership - one day and one person at a time.

Until we have the privilege of meeting in person....

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Type A classic scenario

It happened again - I was on a plane from Orlando to Chicago and sat in between two hard working, hard at it, Type A women. This is not unusual, but this time for some reason it made me wonder if this is really the way to success. Is Type A really the only way? Is it the appropriate path to promotion?

After a brief conversation with both women, one was on her way to a conference, working on reading the pre-material that would allow her to be prepared. The other was reading a study module for a Master's class she was taking over the week. Both mentioned in their own way being too busy at the office to prepare for their out of town business effectively. Both yawned during our conversations (I don't think it was a reflection on me) and both mentioned how much they wish they could just take a nap. What is it that makes us drive so hard to acheive? What is the cost of such constant driving and rarely taking a moment, or many, to rejuvinate.

Friends joke with me that if it gets on Monica's list, it gets done, so make not mistake, I am not one to criticize the whole Type A conundrum - the constant drive to get things done at all costs - I am merely questioning at this stage of the game whether or not all the stress of achieveing is really worth it, really healthy, and really the model for success that we all think it is. Maybe every so often, every once in a while, we should... just take a nap.

Until we have the privilege of meeting in person...

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Little, or not so little, Texas Tornado

There it was, staring me in the face: the mountain of paperwork, proposals abound, a billion emails, a book to finish and a product to create... all by oh, you know... tomorrow! Then it hit me, a friend affectionately refers to me as the Little Texas Tornado (for those of you who don't know, I am originally from Texas) and here I am living the very concept. My office is a tornado of creativity, productivity and potential burn-out-tivity.

Ever been there? Chances are good that you have and as I hear it all the time from high achieving individuals, chances are also good that you haven't taken time out for you in a while. The truth is - we all so desperately need it. In my experience, truly effective leaders take the time. They take sabbaticals, retreats, vacations, even if only for a day or for a moment to stare out the window, they take the time to reflect on priorities and directions and just blank space. The tornado that is my office will wait, the health and well being of my body and brain will not. So, with that said, today is the day that I choose to brag about the people, the accomplishments, and not the hours worked to get there. Today is the day that I proclaim that 80 hours a week is not the average that we should seek to achieve, but rather, 80 moments of peace, gratitude, and reflection is the goal to which I am now striving. That doesn't mean that I am going to hole away and find a beach and just do nothing, but it does mean that I am going to ratchet the stress level down a notch and just chill long enough to actually eat breakfast and drink my latte.

What are you doing today so that your capacity to lead yourself matches or at least is close to your capacity to lead mulitple projects at one time. Without some continued focus on the first, you may not have any energy left to complete the second. Just a thought... enjoy your day!

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Lessons in Life become Lessons in Leadership

Have you ever just blown up - lost it - blown a gasket - flipped your lid? I think we all have and if you answered yes, the greatest comfort I can offer you is that you are not alone.

It has been a while since I have done it, but boy when I do, it comes with fireworks, sparklers and big ole texas sized gestures (not that kind - come on now!). In the moment, it seems wholly appropriate and then later it seems silly and then even later it can seem embarrassing, but that whole in the moment thing is what I have learned is a lesson in life.

As I had an experience this week that could so easily have provoked a lid flipping response, I was able to pause and think before reacting. I was able to strategically think what would be the most effective response, not the most explosive. Now, this lack of pause is often relegated to those of my particular personality preference, but there isn't one of us who has never said anything before thinking. In this case it was particularly enlightening to watch myself make the choice as a year ago, this would not have happened. In the last year, I have taken the CORE profile that we now use in our business and that changed the abilities I have to control my own behavior. I thought I had control, but there were times when well, others would not have believed that to be the case.

What would it do to your leadership, your life and your self esteem to gather the ultimate skill of truly thinking before you speak and being able to control your own behavior? Powerful stuff and I had spent thousands on self help books and seminars before I discovered the simple steps. Everyone tries to make it so complicated. I wish for you an easier road.

If you want to check out the CORE tool, either call us or go straight to my website at http://www.monicawofford.com/LearningPrograms_CORE.htm

Til next time!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Contagious Customer Service

When writing a new book entitled Contagious Customer Service, it never ceases to amaze me the plethora of examples that one can gather about the state of customer service in most places these days. Whether it is over the phone or in person, merchants seem to be too busy to assist, to short on patience to listen, or too caught up in the bottom line and "NEXT" mentality to take the time to treat each customer as an individual special contributing member of their balance sheet. Has it become a lost art to actualy give a darn about your customers or is it only at the highest markup of establishments that one should expect to be treated well, mainly because one is paying though the nose?

The bigger question is why to we accept it? Why do we say "okay, I'll come back" when a merchant is obviously frenetic working on another customer's deadline, but has legitimately and accidently overcharged you by $6000? Why do we tolerate rude phone service folks and raise our own blood pressure followed by a request for a supervisor? Why do we do it? What if we just didn't do business with those who didn't treat us the way we expected to be treated? what if we lowered our expectations? Why should we have to? I have seen clerks at 7/11 pay more attention to a friendly service level than some of the service vendors I utilize - not all mind you, but some. And then there is my friendly neighborhood Kinko's (www.fedexkinkos.com) in which I can go in any day or night and get a greeting and most of the time it's by name. (I'm in there a few times a week)There is the woman on the phone with Bank of America who bent over bankwards to assist me with an erroneous charge and then there is the rep at the large phone company that sounds like Squint that makes the life of the woman who runs my office a living nightmare because of their constant system issues, lack of customer focus and lack of interest in changing apparently.

It's a mixed bag and part of it is why we do so much Customer Service training and business, but at what point do we all throw our hands in air and cry out for something a little better than "what do you want?"

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What is Leadership?

Recently, I read a training curriculum that defined leading as:
"Using rapport to achieve the results that you want."

While I found it an interesting definition, it also seemed to lead one to believe (no pun intended) that leadership is about making connections, building rapport, and forging relationships with others. That does seem to be key in all leadership, doesn't. Unless you have become a leader by accident, meaning you have been promoted without being given the skills to actually lead others, you have the duty to make a connection with others as soon as you assume the posistion. If you have been promoted into leadership because you are one of the last ones left, the only one who wanted the job, or the one who has been there the longest, then your primary duty is to learn as quickly as possible how to lead people, while also striving to make a connection with those you have been given the privilege of leading.

Learning the job and making the connection - that will enable you to build trust and rapport - not to mention - quite a following.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Push or Pull Leadership

It has been said that a true leader is lifted up by those following the leader. Are you being lifted up or are you pulling all those you have the privilege of leading along? If you rose through the ranks in an organization, chances are you were lifted up by those you interacted with and made an impression on. If you landed in a new leadership role with no previous experience in that culture, chances are you were lifted up by those in other companies or other positions to have the skills and knowledge you needed to land this new role.

If what you are doing is pulling others into your following, you may not be leading with the right skills and knowledge. The key is to insprire, motivate, lead, guide, and direct others in a way that focuses on their own personal and professional development. This focus will likely gain you the "lift up" that you are looking for. Any other focus, will keep you in a position of pulling others along with you, which is somewhat like trying to push water - highly ineffective.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Did you come in with a Contagious Attitude this morning?

Every day is an opportunity for you to impact those you lead. There are those times when you come in from the parking lot and those you work with are alreay in the office and they can tell just by looking at you walking up to the door, that you "rode your broom into work today". If that is what they perceive before they talk to you, what do you think happens to thier mindset, confidence, and focus? Everything you do and say is contagious and has a "rub-off" affect on other people. Before you walk into work tomorrow ask your self these questions:

1. Am I in a mindset that is what I want to receive from those I lead?
2. Will my demeanor create discussions among employees that I want to have duplicated?
3. Is what is affecting me really that bad or something that I can change by focusing on it while I am at work?

We all have lives, or at least we should and if you don't, now would be a good time to go get one. And in those lives, things happen that are contagious, yet if they cannot be effectively dealt with at work or resolved through worry while at the office, then why bring that into the office and spread it around. This is not to say that you should "check your feelings at the door" as this can also be deadly. It is simply saying that if you are enthusiastic and excited about your work, that will spread. If you are distracted, or burned out, or less than excited about a project, that, too will spread. Which would you prefer to be surrounded by?

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Leaders Action Steps

Staying on task in our busy environments can be a challenge, for sure. But, leaders who are on purpose and leading intentionally (instead of merely because they have a title) follow a few simple steps to stay on task and keep those they have the privilige of leading on task as well.

Recently, I finished "The Secrets of VITO - Think and sell like a CEO" and on page 179 there are a few action steps that CEO's take to lead with purpose on purpose. They are:

1. Write an Easy to Understand Mission Statement - this is a statement that simply answers the question "what are we all about?"

2. Constantly Ask Yourself "What can I learn from this situation that will help me move forward in my goals"

3. Stay Flexible Forget about attaining perfection; move past setbacks. (easier said than done for certain!)

4. Move Past Fear During tough times, successful CEOs push past the rest of the crowd.Everyone feels fear. The trick is to control it, recognize it, and put it in its place. (As my friend Jack Canfield is fond of saying "Feel the fear and do it anyway")

5. Be Persistant Every CEO interviewed for this book (see above) developed a knack for coming back, again, and again, and again, to the tasks necessary to attain their goals. (AND SO CAN YOU!)

Lead with purpose!

Monday, January 1, 2007

Leadership and Success... go together!

"Success and the ability to lead others - that is, getting them to do things they wouldn't do if they were not led - go hand in hand. "
Dr. David Schwartz - The Magic of Thinking Big

This is why we focus our efforts on helping people with Success...Intentionally and Leadership...Intentionally, our two new courses for 2007. Success, both personal and professional, does go hand in hand with leadership, both professional and personal. In order to be a success at the office or in your career you have to lead yourself and others effectively and to greater achievement. In order to be a success personally, you have to do a good job of leading those voices in your head. We all have them and yes, we talk about and to them!

I just finished reading The Magic of Thinking Big and if you have not taken the opportunity to read this book, now is the time. Amidst your goals and dreams and cleaning out of closets (physical and metaphorical) that happens this time of year, take the time to invoke new ideas, new skills, and new knowledge into your world. A training of the brain, if you will. Learn how to be a Success...Intentionally! Want to know more... check out http://www.monicawofford.com/LearningPrograms.html.
Happy New Year!